From desert museums to incredible zoos and parks, this guide will keep your family busy enjoying the adventures of New Mexico.
Take the family for a hot air balloon ride and enjoy spectacular aerial views of the Taos Valley and the Rio Grande Gorge. FAA certified pilots provide entertaining and informational flights for the family lasting between 60 and 90 minutes, dependent on winds and landing sites on any given day. Pueblo Balloon Company operates up to six balloons at a time, and they can hold anywhere from three to 10 passengers. It is recommended children be at least 6 years old to ride in the balloons, as noise from the burners of the balloons can bother younger travelers. Please note to call ahead for reservations.
Location: P.O. Box 361, Taos, NM 87571
With over 40 native species of the Chihuahuan Desert, children of all ages can explore the fascinating variety of New Mexico wildlife at Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park. In addition to the diverse animal life, the park's large greenhouse showcases over 300 plants and cacti from the Chihuahuan Desert. Plan about an hour and a half to two hours to take the self-guided and self-paced tour of the zoo and park. And don't forget to stop by the visitor center where kiosks and displays provide more information about New Mexico's plant and animal life. There is also an on-site gift shop and vending machines. Note there is no food service, so plan accordingly. The best time to visit is May, when colorful wildflowers abound.
Location: 1504 Miehls Drive, Carlsbad, NM 88221
Making education more than just fun, Explora is an opportunity for families to engage in a hands-on experience with science, technology and art. With a theater, a wheelchair accessible playground and 50,000-square feet of interactive exhibits, Explora is truly a one-of-a-kind educational experience that will keep the entire family occupied for hours. Rotating exhibits such as the newly launched Math Moves and soon-to-be launched Light, Color and Shadow truly appeal to a wide audience. Explora also provides activities during the week for toddlers and their adult companions, with Toddler Time on Monday mornings starting at 9 a.m. and Music Jam on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2:15 p.m. where everyone can choose their instrument and create new melodies together. There are also camps running throughout the year for extended experiences at Explora. As for dining options, there are snacks in the gift shop but no restaurant or cafe on site, so visitors are encouraged to take a short walk to Old Town to enjoy a heartier meal. And to help keep the local community thriving, proceeds from gift shops support Explora's educational programs and efforts to help low-income families.
Location: 1701 Mountain Road NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104
Open Tuesday through Saturday, this southwestern gem is a kid's gold mine of activity. Aside from the regular stations present at most children's museums, make sure to stop in the outdoor gardens and play area. It was built in the southwestern style of the area and features a great sandbox with flowers and plant species native to the area. For slithering thrills, stop in the snake and bug section. And you can't miss out on the coolest attraction — an Airstream trailer that doubles as a food truck. It offers gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options, so everyone will be able to find something to fill them up for the day. Please note that Sundays are discounted days with lower admission rates.
Location: 1050 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87505
There are numerous hot springs throughout the Southwestern United States — no two the same. To distinguish themselves from the rest, Ojo Caliente fills their pools with sulphur-free, geothermal mineral waters derived from a subterranean volcanic aquifer — in other words. the water does not have that harsh smell that people often associate with hot springs. Ojo Caliente also lives up to the very famous claim of being the only hot springs in the world that offers four different types of minerals in their waters to create an experience that is both healing and relaxing. Pool temperatures range from 80–109 degrees, which is great for children of different ages and requirements. The pools are open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., with supervised children 12 and under welcome in the large pool from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. only. Swim diapers are required for non-potty trained children.
Location: 50 Los Banos Drive, Ojo Caliente, NM 87549
As the only free zoo in New Mexico, Spring River Park and Zoo does not boast the largest collection of animals, but rather, offers a quaint look at various animals in a more relaxed setting. Families are invited to casually stroll through different areas of the zoo, including Longhorn Ranch and Prairie Dog Town. Not only that, but children aged 15 and under can sharpen their reeling skills at the zoo's own fishing lake. You can find even more family fun throughout the zoo, as they have a miniature train, carousel, numerous picnic areas, a playground and access to the Spring River Recreational Trail.
Location: 1306 E. College Blvd., Roswell, NM 88201
The largest ski hill in the state, Taos Ski Valley is jam packed with outdoor adventure for kids big and small, young and old. When the white stuff falls, strap on the skis and hit the mountain. There is an on-site daycare center for the little ones, ski school for all ages and endless mountain fun traversing the steep yet manageable terrain. The Valley's popular Strawberry Hill offers snowshoeing, snowmobiling and after-hours tubing. Come warm weather, hang up the skis and saddle up on a horse. Or enjoy hiking along the many trails filled with glimpses of alpine flora and wildlife that run throughout the Valley.
Location: P.O. Box 90, Taos Ski Valley, NM 87525
Why is there a toy store on this list? Well, Twirl is much more than a shop. It's an adventure for children of all ages and a mecca for activity. Start in the shop and peruse through hundreds of toys, then head straight to the backyard into an outdoor play area filled with recreational equipment including swings, gyms and more. During the week, Twirl offers a variety of kid-friendly arts and crafts activities, music days, yoga classes and more. There is also an upstairs playroom that is open for free drop-in play with the most darling furnishings. Tea, coffee, a toy library, games and activities are all available free of charge — however, a suggested donation box is located in the outdoor play area to help keep this incredible outfit going year after year.
Location: 225 Camino de la Placita, Taos, NM 87571
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